“Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd”: Review


Image via Double J

Thomas Gravely (he/him), Staff Writer

Lana Del Rey’s long-awaited ninth studio album is her longest yet, at 1 hour and 17 minutes. Taking on a fresh new sound while still maintaining her signature style, Lana’s postmodernist, piano-centric album is filled with ballads about her family, grief and toxic relationships. In her new album, Lana takes the listener on an emotional ride through one of her best projects to date.

The album’s opening track, “The Grants,” begins with an acapella intro and leads into a beautiful, sweeping ballad about holding her family close and carrying memories of those who have passed on. The album then transitions into the lead single and title track where Lana delivers an impressive vocal performance with her signature on-the-nose lyricism about not wanting to be forgotten, like the once-well-traveled tunnel under Ocean Blvd.

After the third track “Sweet,” the album’s biggest hit, “A&W,” leaves a lasting impression. Lana describes her obsession with relationships that are immediately gratifying but ultimately surface-level. The second half of the song goes in a completely new direction, bringing back memories of her earlier work, with more percussion and playful, youthful lyrics such as, “Your mom called, I told her, you’re fuckin’ up big time.”

The next few tracks establish a more ominous tone that’s new for Lana. Following an interlude of a Judah Smith sermon with ominous piano, Lana delivers one of her best songs, “Candy Necklace,” with chilling dark chords and an excellent feature of John Batiste. “Kintsugi” and “Fingertips” are both tearjerkers, continuing the theme of family love and loss.

“Paris, Texas” is also a highlight, with gorgeous piano playing from SYML topped with a beautiful melody and vocal performance from Lana. The next three tracks follow Lana’s classic style, with her angelic head voice and gorgeous lyricism stealing the show, supported by features from RIOPY, Father John Misty, and Bleachers. “Margaret,” is especially good, a ballad about producer Jack Antonoff’s wife and friend of Lana’s.

After “Margaret,” Ocean Blvd switches up the mood with more upbeat tracks reminiscent of old Lana. “Taco Truck x VB” features a remixed version of “Venice Bitch,” a throwback to her 2019 album Norman Fucking Rockwell!. They’re certainly the most “listenable” tracks on the album, but it was an interesting choice to create a tonal shift in the album’s final songs.

At its core, Ocean Blvd is a reflective piece about love, loss and wisdom, that still manages to sound new while retaining the Americana aesthetic Lana Del Rey is known for. Its lyrics are some of the most vulnerable and personal she’s ever been, and it pays off. Although the album is very ballad-heavy and drags in some parts, she always pulls the listener back in with unexpected moments like in the interludes and “A&W.” The album feels like a breathtaking journey through her career, revising and incorporating elements from her past works into a new creation that’s her best since Norman Fucking Rockwell!.


Highlights: “The Grants”, “Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd”, “A&W”, “Candy Necklace”, “Paris, Texas”, “Peppers”, “Taco Truck x VB”


Verdict: 8.9/10